Bruce Nuclear Generating Station. Ontario Ministry of Energy/Twitter

 

Ontario and Bruce Power begin planning for massive new nuclear power addition

KINCARDINE, Ontario – Bruce Power and the Province of Ontario announced initial work on the first major new nuclear power generating station in this country in two generations.

This is not “small modular reactors,” but 4,800 megawatts of “big nuclear,” to be built adjacent to the existing Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, on the shores of Lake Huron. For perspective, the most power SaskPower has ever generated was 3,910 megawatts on Dec. 30, 2021. If each of the new reactors turns out to be 1,200 megawatts – just one of those reactors would equal all four, combined, that Saskatchewan is currently considering.

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, owned by Ontario Power Generation and operated by Bruce Power, is already the largest in the world, producing 6,550 megawatts. It’s composed of eight reactors grouped in sets of four: Bruce A and Bruce B. The addition of 4,800 megawatts, making up Bruce C, will bring that to 11,350 megawatts.

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The first Bruce Unit 1 was commissioned in 1977, and Unit 8 was commissioned in 1987. All eight existing reactors are CANDU heavy-water reactors.

Additionally, Ontario Power Generation will be refurbishing, instead of retiring, the second half of its Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, four reactors known as Pickering B. That will maintain 2,200 megawatts of power generation for Ontario.

The announcement was for the beginning of initial planning work for the new Bruce project.

Ontario Energy Minister Todd Smith noted, “Ontario’s population is expected to grow by 2 million people by the end of this decade. And the families and businesses are increasingly making the switch to electric vehicles, leveraging our world class clean electricity systems to reduce emissions. With all of this growth underway, our government’s focused on ensuring the continued availability of reliable, affordable and clean electricity.”

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Ontario is starting pre-development work for the first large-scale nuclear build in Ontario since 1993, when Darlington Unit 8 was commissioned. Starting planning early will ensure the province is prepared to meet rising demand from electrification and strong economic growth, the Ontario Energy Ministry said in a tweet.

Here’s the press conference, broadcast live on Twitter by the Ontario Ministry of Energy. It starts at time stamp 8:00.

 

Smith noted it could take over a decade, or more, from the start of federal approvals to deployment. “Initiating this early planning is going to ensure that the province present reliable low cost and clean option ready and available here,” he said.

He said the new nuclear station could generate thousands of new jobs and generate billions of dollars in new economic activity across the province for decades to come. But he didn’t speak about how much the project was expected to cost, how many reactors would be involved, or indeed, what type of reactors. He did not say if they would be new Canadian-designed CANDU reactors, or a foreign model, like the Westinghouse AP-1000 units. (Westinghouse is 49% owned by Saskatoon-based Cameco). If they are CANDU reactors, that would mean the involvement of SNC-Lavalin, which took over the CANDU program from Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).

Bruce Power president and CEO Mike Rencheck said the power upgrading of existing units at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station will increase its output from 6,300 to over 7,000 megawatts by 2030. And it is extending the life of existing units to 2064.

He noted over 1,000 companies throughout Ontario and Canada are working on the current life extension program on the existing reactors.

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“With this announcement today, it continues that trend of long term thinking long term policy that enables us to plan for the future. We’re so excited to be able to start planning for that long term future of clean, reliable and affordable electricity here at the Bruce site. With the minister’s announcement, we’ll get started working with the federal government on the impact assessment process,” he said.

Bruce Power’s press release said, “With the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Pathways to Decarbonization (P2D) report forecasting the need to double its installed capacity in the province to meet demand while meeting emissions reductions targets, starting this long-term planning and consultation is prudent and proactive. The IESO’s P2D report highlighted “no regret actions” the government can take now to start down the path to net zero by 2050, including beginning the planning, siting and environmental assessment work needed for expanded nuclear generation, and galvanizing collaboration amongst stakeholders and Indigenous communities.”

In a case of the federal government totally getting it wrong, the Canadian Energy Regulator, previously the National Energy Board, issued a report just two weeks ago called Canada’s Energy Future 2023. Page 72 of the report noted, “In all three scenarios, we do not project any new large-scale nuclear facilities are built over the projection period, as other generation technologies more cost effectively meet growing electricity demand given our assumptions. However, in both net-zero scenarios, we project considerable growth for small modular reactors (SMRs), particularly in the 2035 to 2050 period.”

 

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